Four or five years ago, Kobe Bryant‘s status as the most hated basketball player among Celtics fans was undisputed. He was in his prime and still seemed to be the No. 1 obstacle to the Celtics’ championship hopes.
Bryant still won’t be receiving many free meals at Boston eating establishments any time soon, but it’s possible that he’s no longer public enemy No. 1. Celtics fans have so many other rivals to get through before they can even start worrying about Bryant and the Lakers, Bryant seems to have faded into the background.
Carmelo Anthony entered the mix last year after a midseason trade with the Nuggets. The Celtics bounced Anthony and the Knicks in four straight games in the first round, but that was more than enough time for ‘Melo to get under the skin of Celtics fans. His 37-point performance in this season’s opener showed why he could cause grief for Celtics fans for years to come.
The Celtics had owned LeBron James in the postseason until last year’s second round, when James and the Heat needed just five games to advance. With Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh at his side, James will be the favorite in any matchup against the Celtics for a long time.
Last season was the first time in two years the Celtics didn’t face the Magic in the playoffs, and somehow it just felt wrong. The Celtics and Magic split their last two head-to-head playoff series, with the winner of each series advancing to the NBA Finals. Dwight Howard was a factor in both series, and the distant possibility that he could sign with the Celtics this offseason does little to lessen the grief he’s received from Boston fans.